Electric Vehicles are here!Why do I say this? Because every day I am seeing electric vehicles EVs during my commute in the lower mainland of British Columbia. I see EVs in Abbotsford, in Langley, and in Surrey BC. These are not promotional vehicles wrapped in announcements that cry out "this is an eco-friendly vehicle", but rather normal people going about their lives without creating additional pollution.
I've been telling my kids that by the time that they are old enough to buy a car, they will have a choice between an older technology that uses a tank of poisonous carcinogenic explosive flammable fuel, or a cleaner simpler technology that uses electricity. It seems this is happening even more rapidly than I expected.
Electric vehicles are commercially available.In terms of Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) I see Tesla model S,X,3 & Nissan Leaf & Chevy Bolt & BMW I3 & Kia Soul & Hyundai Kona electric cars on the road, and this is really important because it shows some healthy competition in the market place. All of these manufacturers are equipped to produce EVs and are making money selling EVs. Emotive a non profit EV car advocacy group defines Electric car as any car that can be plugged in to charge it's battery. By that definition, Plug-in Hybrid Electric vehicles fit the bill, which in a way is good, because they are a necessary transitional technology to help us use less gasoline as we transition to clean Transportation. But lets not get stuck in the transition if we can move more directly towards the goal.
Anyone can go to a Nissan or Chevy or Tesla or Hyundai or Kia dealer and purchase a BEV. It doesn't require any special knowledge, just money. Soon as supply increases, the auto makers will bring the pricing in line with their existing gas burning vehicles because customers understand that it shouldn't cost is more money to make a responsible choice. For many people purchasing a used EV will be the economical way into EV ownership. There are useful comparison sites online like Cargurus.ca where you can see the EVs you are interested in and compare prices and features before you spend time visiting car dealers. Here are the Battery Electric Vehicles currently available in BC (courtesy the http://pluginbc.ca website.)
What about Charging?In Quebec polling data suggests that 90% of charging occurs at home and that makes sense because cars spend most of their time parked there. We can expect a similar profile elsewhere. 90% of the time these cars don't "need" a public charger. When it comes to public chargers, I see that within 7 minutes drive from my home in Abbotsford there are 9 different places where a I can recharge my EV, but between my house and those charging stations are literally 1000s of houses which have electricity. My point is that we are accustomed to driving to a gas station because we wouldn't dream of storing dangerous gasoline in residential neighbourhoods. But with electric vehicles, chargers can be installed at any home. In the same way that we put our mobile phones on to charge at night, electric vehicles can be plugged in to be recharged.
For longer distance travel, EVs are starting to have the needed infrastructure. There are 1000 public EV chargers in British Columbia today, with more arriving every week. Below you can see just a small sample of the bottom left corner of BC's Mainland. (Visit PlugShare.com to find more public chargers)
In addition to home charging, we are already seeing restaurants like Tim Hortons including chargers at some of their restaurants so drivers can recharge while they stop for lunch, and energy companies like Petro Canada are installing fast chargers at some of their "gas" stations. As drivers choose businesses that let them charge up, other businesses will catch on and the number of chargers will increase. It will be easier and easier to find a place to recharge. These public "destination" chargers not only provide a convenience of "topping up" the charge when out and about, but they provide a bridge for the time when new EV owners are waiting to get their home chargers installed, a bridge for EV owners who live where their strata has not accommodated their request for a charger a safety net for EV owners who miscalculated and ran out of power before they could return home.
In the United states and Canada, the number of electric charging locations exceeds the number of compressed natural gas (CNG) charging stations. Apart from well funded transit systems, CNG has failed to replace gasoline and diesel as a cleaner alternative. Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) are pulling into the lead as a clean replacement for polluting transportation..
What about range anxiety?I haven't yet met an electric car owner who has range anxiety. Not one. It's a bit of a red herring. With most charging happening at home and most commuting well under the range of electric vehicles (100km commute and 170km of range for our 2017 Nissan Leaf) there is less of an issue than the media might lead us to believe. So buy the correct car for your needs. If you need a vehicle to get groceries and commute, almost any BEV will do. If you need to travel to visit clients all day long, purchase an EV with greater range. Financial ProTip: Most drivers would be financially ahead to rent a truck or SUV when they need one, rather than driving more vehicle than they really need.
With the nation's of the world committing to lower their greenhouse gas emissions, and with a population that is disgusted by the pollution our gas cars leave in their wake, the time is now and the market is ripe for a wholesale shift to electric cars. Electric Vehicles are here!